No matter who you are or how long you’ve lived in Los Angeles, one thing is guaranteed: at some point, you’ll spend time in Burbank - especially if you’re an actor. If you don’t live here, you probably work here. And if you don’t work here, you probably live here. And if none of that applies, you’ve definitely come to Ikea here to buy some shelves you still haven’t put together.
It may never be an on-trend culinary destination, but if you think Burbank isn’t home to some fantastic local spots and old-time classics, you are dead wrong. Here are the best places to eat in Burbank.
It’s hard to eat well when you’re waiting for your big break. Get the rest of The Actor’s Guide To Eating & Drinking In LA here.
The pride and joy of Burbank, Porto’s Bakery is a straight-up classic. The family-run Cuban bakery has been serving guava pastries, potato rolls, and everything else under the Valley sun for the last 55 years and built a rabid following in the process. Come here at noon on a Tuesday and be greeted by 100 other people who had the same idea as you. But not to worry, Porto’s is a well-oiled machine and will have you in, out, and eating strudel for lunch alone in your car in no time.
Despite all the studios and chain restaurants out here, Burbank is basically still a small town filled with plenty of weird little restaurants. One of those weird spots is Chili John’s. This diner on Burbank Blvd. has a mountain mural on the walls, a chatty crowd of people who live nearby, and pretty fantastic chili. There are a bunch of different types, but we like the hot spice-level original beef one that’s served on rice and beans with plenty of sour cream and a drizzle of apple cider vinegar on top. Just save room for lemon cream pie for dessert.
On a horrifying service road by the airport that can only be described as the edge of humanity, Tonir Cafe will never win your heart with its location. But the food is a different story. The kabobs at this Armenian spot should be your focus, and though the beef lule is our favorite, you can’t go wrong with anything you order. The prices are very low and the family that runs the place couldn’t be any nicer. What more could you want other than another kabob?
Chained Rabbit looks like most dive bars. There’s no sign outside, and the interior is dark with plenty of barstools, a few booths, and way better-than-average bar food. This is a place where a quick after-work drink quickly turns into a night out, especially once the group realizes that Happy Hour runs from 4 to 7pm and involves $6 cocktails. If you stay for food, the shrimp tostadas and fried chicken sandwich are fantastic, and you’ll want an order of the twice-fried fries.
In an outdoor minimall off Magnolia, this Cajun seafood spot is big, loud, and extremely messy. The set-up is simple - choose your super-fresh seafood (we like the shrimp), your seasoning, spice level, and sides, and then about 15 minutes later someone will put a plastic bag full of seafood on your paper-topped table. There are no plates and no utensils (unless you order crab, which comes with a cracker), but you will get a plastic bib and plenty of napkins. It’s a fun place for a group dinner where everyone will end up with a red ring of sauce around their mouths.
Handy’s Saturday BBQ is the kind of place you visit for the first time and realize you don’t actually know anything about Los Angeles. Six days a week, Handy is a local grocer and wine shop, but on Saturdays, it turns into an outdoor BBQ Shangri-La. It all happens in their adjacent parking lot, with eight industrial-sized grills cranking out everything from tri-tip to ribs to corn on the cob all day long. And a pound of that premiere tri-tip? $8.99.
Summer Buffalo isn’t an old-school spot with a menu that hasn’t changed in 40 years, and it isn’t a restaurant with 17 other locations in Southern California. Therefore, it doesn’t feel very Burbank. Summer Buffalo is just a little Thai restaurant with great food. We particularly like the khao soi and beef panang curry, and everything else we’ve tried has also been solid.
Castaway is a Valley classic that sits on a hill overlooking Burbank. They recently had a big renovation, and now the place looks and feels like an expensive hotel rather than a relic of the ’90s. Although they’ve also overhauled the menu (think steaks, crab cakes, shrimp cocktails), it’s still pretty boring and expensive. But you don’t come here for the food, you come for the view, which spans from the north parts of the Valley to DTLA. If you bring some out-of-towners here for snacks and drinks at sunset, and they’ll insist you come back every night for the rest of their trip.
We could frankly write a three-book mini-series about this 57 year-old diner, but all we have is this one paragraph, so here we go. You don’t come to Tallyrand for the food. You come to gawk at the people inside. Each and every one is basically a living Hollywood time capsule and you should know right now, you’ll never be as cool as them. These people tried email once in the ’90s and hated it, have all slept with Cloris Leachman, and are four cocktails ahead of you and judging you for it. Welcome to the best show in town.
If you can’t find Rafo’s, that means you’ve found it. Hiding in a corner strip mall next to a pawn shop and VIP Jewelers (same thing?), Rafo’s announces itself with only all-white sign out front that reads “Kabobs and Pizza.” And kabobs and pizza are exactly what’s happening here. While their kabobs are good, their pizza is better. And more specifically, their phenomenal, sauce-less, goat cheese-doused Armenian pizza.
This dime-sized Mexican brunch spot is a newer place around here (at least in Burbank years, 2015 was practically yesterday), but it’s quickly become very busy on weekends. Be prepared to wait a bit, but stick around and you’re in for a glorious Mexican breakfast of machaca, huevos divorciados, and multiple cups of that signature, cinnamon-infused cafe de olla coffee.
Despite having a footprint only slightly larger than one of those cigarette/newspaper shacks in Hollywood you wonder who pays rent on, Cottage Corner has a very big secret. And it’s not a well-kept one. CC has a breakfast burrito that rivals the best of LA. You’ve been warned - it’s only served until 11am and the 10:30 am rush is real because that’s when everyone who lives around the corner decides to show up.
Greetings from heaven. This tiny store in the middle of Burbank might not look like much on the outside, but inside true magic is happening. World Empanada isn’t the most authentic empanada, but it’s definitely one of the best. In a short amount of time, the well-kept little bakery has developed a gigantic following. And its because they’re taking a well-known comfort food and putting everything from chile con carne to biscuits and gravy inside.
Cafe Magazzino might sit in the heart of the chaotic studio lot lunch scene, but fear not. The somewhat bizarre, dollhouse-in-the-attic vibe makes it stand out against all the other depressing on-the-go salad spots. But don’t get us wrong - they definitely serve salads here, and they’re definitely good. It’s just nice to sit for second, take a breath, and not worry about how badly you flubbed that line in your audition earlier today. Pray the zucchini fennel soup is available - it’s fantastic.
Pastrami, pastrami, and more pastrami. King’s Deli took over Cafe Magazzino’s original space in the shadows of the Warner Brothers lot and gained an overnight following for cranking out incredible New York-style deli sandwiches and house-made pastrami. There’s also an espresso bar that smartly caters to the enraged studio execs in need of a seventh wind.
You’re not going to find a better American breakfast in Burbank than Bea Bea’s. Their waffles and french toast are worth ordering, but we always go for the Green Tea Monster pancakes. Three gigantic things are topped with green tea mascarpone, whipped cream, and white chocolate chips. What happens in The Valley stays in The Valley.
Yes, as in that Bob’s Big Boy. Though the original in Glendale was demolished years ago, Burbank’s 60-year-old location lives on as the oldest Big Boy in America - and it’s overflowing with entertainment history. Sure, you’ll come here for a double-decker burger and a milkshake, but you really just want to sit in the same booth where The Beatles sat in 1964 and blast the experience on social media.
Burbank will never have a particularly big bar scene, but that doesn’t mean it’s not home to one of our favorite bars. Tony’s Darts Away is one of those elusive triple-threats in the bar game. It’s a beer-drinker’s paradise (the menu is divided into two sections, “IPA” and “Not IPA”), their eclectic menu is so much better than it has to be (we see you, Korean Bowl), and there are enough pool tables, dart boards, and a fun crowd to keep you there for hours. Sign us up.
Since 1956, this classic sub shop west of downtown has been serving excellent (and massive) sandwiches to the masses. You’re going to hear a lot about their pastrami, but our order is always the Italian cold cut. It comes with molinari, Italian salami, and capicola topped with more salt, pepper, oil, and onions than your co-workers within a 10 ft radius will be able to handle. And that’s a good thing.